Saturday, 14 August 2010

Just what the doctor didn't order

Just bought a delightful little book, part of a series on the history of medicine, called The Beginnings - Egypt and Assyria. It was written by Warren R. Dawson, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and the Royal  Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland The edition I have was published by Paul B, Hoeber Inc, New York, 1930.

"If Egypt cannot compete with Greece in scientific medical knowledge and thought," he writes "she at least  inaugurated what others have developed and led the way to facilities for the advancement of knowledge and research which otherwise could not have existed. The debt of civilization to Egypt is incalculable."

So I thought it would be interesting, from time to time, to list a few ailments along with the Ancient Egyptian cure.

Have you got a 'watery ear'? Help is at hand.

"Medicament for a ear that is watery. Salt, heat with good wine; you apply to it after cleansing it first. You should scrape the salt, heat with wine; you apply to it for four days. " (From the London-Leiden Magical Papyrus).

What about gout?

"Gout. You make the man sit down; you place clay under the feet of the man; you put ... to it, his feet testing on it; you ask the man, saying, "Has it hardened?" for three days. Thereafter you take an ant (?), you cook it in oil of henna; you anoint his feet with it. When you have finished, you take Alexandrian figs and dried grapes and potentilla; you pound them with wine; you anoint him besides (?) these; and you blow on him with you mouth."

That's enough medical advice for the moment. But if you have a medical complaint and feel brave enough to share it with the world, I'll look it up and see what the Ancient Egyptians would have suggested.

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